NAIROBI, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Amsterdam marathon champion Lawrence Cherono of Kenya on Wednesday vowed to retain his title and improve the course record in the Dutch city on Oct. 21.
Speaking in Eldoret, Cherono who holds the current course record of 2.05.09 from last year's win, said he is in better shape to try to break the two hours and four minute mark.
"It will be my fourth time. It is my dream for my career because I was there in 2011 where I got a personal best. I returned there and did well and now I want to improve my best time and win the race against the strong international challenge," Cherono told Xinhua.
The elite field in Amsterdam Marathon will be the strongest ever assembled led by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:03.03), Mule Wasihun, who holds a fast time of 2:05:39, Kenyans Gideon Kipketer (2:05:51) and Laban Korir (2:05:54).
Former Kenyan-turned Turkish Kaan Ozbilen Kigen (2:06:10), a silver medalist from the European Championships half-marathon will also be present.
"It is always a dream to run in Amsterdam. If that dream dies, it will be like a bird that can't fly. I have a lot of hope to improve against a stronger field assembled this time round. I am excited to run against Bekele. He was my role model and I look forward to meet him.
"I used to see him run against Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge or in the IAAF Golden League. Today I train with Kipchoge and am excited to run against Bekele and target a faster race. Kipchoge has taught me to always remain focused and determined. Run with your mind, the race is won in the mind, always be strong in the mind," added Cherono.
Alongside Bekele and Cherono, Ethiopian Mule holds the sway on who will carry the day. Mule is gradually establishing himself in the upper echelons of global marathon running.
In 2017 he placed second in the Dubai Marathon clocking 2:06:46 before trimming five seconds from his marathon best time to 2:05:39 for fourth in Amsterdam.
Kenya's Gideon Kipketer represents the next generation of marathon stars.
His rising status in global marathon running was further cemented earlier this year as he dismantled his previous best time by more than two minutes to record 2:05:51 finishing second at the Tokyo Marathon behind former world record holder Wilson Kipsang.